When did you realise you wanted to become a winemaker?
Wine was always a part of home life growing up, with immigrant parents who celebrated wine at meal times. After meeting winemakers after the Royal Brisbane Wine Show awards, tasting and getting to talk candidly with them about their occupation a connection was made from long ago to something that would then become my career and lifelong passion.
Please tell us about your career so far.
After studying at UWA and the University of Adelaide, I jumped over to France for the start of a series of vintages abroad; from Chile to the Ukraine, and back again. On my return to Australia, I experienced vintages in McLaren Vale and Margaret River, before finding a home in Tassie and Central Victoria. Now I face the new challenges of returning to South Australia and finding myself in the iconic Clare Valley.
What do you love most about being a winemaker?
[I love] getting to watch a wine truly evolve, going through its different stages to finally emerge as a wine that you are genuinely excited to share with friends.
What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?
This is really an impossible question to answer – however I always find myself partial to a finely balanced sparkling wine; one that is a great palate aperitif but also seamlessly pairs with seafood.
Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
No – while ideas are formed and thought through with an aim in mind, being vigilant and able to adjust plans in the moment is critical in the winery.
Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
2020. It was a very difficult season that produced wines of high quality across the range, with a couple of new entries standing out and already being acknowledged.
How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?
[The climate and soil] makes a huge impact – it’s where it all begins. While the Clare Valley is recognised for its substrates that are famed for riesling, it is the vast variation across the three ranges that give a wide array of soils and climates for unique, individual vineyards to shine.
Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?
Grenache and grenache blends are always interesting with the seasonal variations being quite evident. This vintage variation coupled with the wide range of winemaking techniques that are utilised to produce these fine wines often give rise to much contemplation and discussion when sharing a bottle.
Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
Spurred on by the support seen in the Australian market for balanced and expressive wines embodying a sense of location, much rejuvenation work is being undertaken in the vineyard where we are focusing on correcting clone selection for some of our varieties. Additionally, the planting of classic – and somewhat overlooked – varieties that are ideally suited within specific subregions of the valley, will allow us to further produce wines that are ripe and refined.
From Wineries of South Australia Issue 5. Edited by Bethany Hayes.